New Icon Next to Online Ads Allows You to Opt Out of Tracking

A group of the largest media and marketing trade associations announced today the details of a self-regulatory program aimed at giving consumers better control over the collection and use of their Web viewing patterns for online behavioral advertising purposes. The program will feature an “Advertising Option Icon” to notify website visitors about ad tracking and to give them the option to opt out.

The program will implement practices in support of the Self Regulatory Principles for Online Behavioral Advertising, which the industry released a year ago. These principles address questions of choice, security, and accountability and are meant to address the Federal Trade Commission’s call for more transparent practices around consumers and behavioral advertising.

The participating organizations in today’s announcement include the American Association of National Advertisers, the Association of National Advertisers, the Direct Marketing Association, and the Better Business Bureau, among others, representing more than 5,000 companies

The program promotes the use of the “Advertising Option Icon,” meant to be displayed within or near online advertisements or on Web pages where data is collected and used for behavioral advertising. The icon will indicate a company’s use of online behavioral advertising and its adherence to the principles that guide the program. Clicking on it will provide customers with a disclosure statement about the data collection as well as the ability to easily opt-out.

“Our ability to deliver advertising messages to consumers that speak only to their interests must surely be one of the great benefits of the media revolution that we’re living through,” says Nancy Hill, President and CEO of the American Association of Advertising Agencies. “We fully understand that this advance in targeting will be lost if the public comes to believe that we are not responsible stewards of the data on which it is built.”

Consumer groups have been increasingly vocal about questions of online privacy, and this move is an industry attempt to stay ahead of both negative public sentiment, as well as FTC calls for more regulation.

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